From showrunners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, Marvel’s Runaways, available to stream on Hulu on November 21st , tells the story of six teenagers – Alex Wilder (Rhenzy Feliz), Chase Stein (Gregg Sulkin), Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner), Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano), Gert Yorkes (Ariela Barer) and Molly Hernandez (Allegra Acosta) – who realize that their parents have been lying to them all their lives and that they’re really evil. As a result, this group of estranged friends, who also have secrets of their own, must band together to stop their parents before it’s too late.
On September 26th, Collider (along with a few other outlets) was invited over to the L.A. set of the series to chat with the cast and executive producers and learn about all things Runaways. During a small roundtable interview, co-stars Annie Wersching and Kip Pardue (who play Leslie and Frank Dean, the parents of Karolina) talked about the fun relationship between their characters, how their characters are more relatable than they seem, making sure the parents aren’t cookie cutter villains, what drives their characters, why the parent-child dynamic is so relatable, and how much they enjoy working with the younger cast. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Question: This couple does not fill me with confidence about them.
ANNIE WERSCHING: What?! How dare you!
KIP PARDUE: Then, we’re doing our jobs!
Is that a fun dynamic to play?
WERSCHING: Yeah. First of all, we’ve played husband and wife in a film before, so it was really fun.
PARDUE: It was really fun, getting the role and knowing that we’d get to do all this stuff together.
WERSCHING: And then, once we got to the dynamic that these two people actually have together, we knew it was gonna be really fun. I feel like they’re definitely different than the rest of the parents, especially with the creepy church in there, Frank being on the outskirts, and Leslie being so powerful.
PARDUE: One of the things with this show that’s really fun is how power shifts, how things ebb and flow, and how certain people who are clearly evil maybe become a little bit less, and I think our relationship mirrors that, in a really fun way. It’s a thing to have to deal with a woman like Leslie, and our daughter feels it, too. She’s a powerful, amazing, dedicated CEO, for lack of a better term, and that comes with some costs.
Kip, what’s it like to play this guy who was a star. Is that something you could relate to?
PARDUE: For sure! It stinks, being an actor who’s perfect to play the role of being an out-of-work actor. I don’t like that aspect of it, but I do know what it’s like to not work sometimes, and I do know what it’s like to question what you’re doing for a living. I think everyone does, whether you’re an actor or not. Frank happens to be an actor and there’s a lot of baggage that comes along with that, but at the core of that, he’s struggling with trying to figure out what he wants to do, how he wants to do it, and who he wants to do it with. That’s a fun person to play and a fun character to find, to go from being lost to hopefully being found.
WERSCHING: It’s always fun to play someone who’s different from you, but you have to try to find you in there somewhere.
Why do you think it takes somebody questioning why Frank hasn’t questioned his place in this church and his life before now, to actually get him to question it?
PARDUE: That’s a good question. We’ve all been in that situation where you’re driving down the highway and you look up and you’re like, “Oh, my bod, I’m five exists past where I live! What was I doing?!” I think Frank has been on that ride for a long time. It might now show, but I think the Deans have a really special, important love, and they have a wonderful daughter. There’s a whole series of events that wake Frank up, and unfortunately, we all need that sometimes. There are some things in this show that are just impossible to ignore. He’s never been pushed before. Sometimes it’s really important, as people and as actors, to get outside of your comfort zone. This whole first season is putting Frank outside of his comfort zone, to say the least.
You can see the commitment to the darker side that the parents have. How do you mine that, as an actor?
WERSCHING: That’s what makes her so interesting, and that’s what makes this a character that I really wanted to play. She’s obviously very powerful and does a lot of things that aren’t so good. A character like Lady Macbeth or Claire Underwood would do those same things and not break down and cry about it, whereas Leslie does. That’s what makes her interesting, different and unique. The fun part is trying to balance making her likeable, even though she may not appear likeable, in the beginning. That’s why you do this. You don’t want to be cookie-cutter, so I love it.
PARDUE: It’s amazing to watch. Every day, I get to come to work and watch her do this thing, and it really is amazing. There’s not many people that could do it. If we don’t feel for these parents, and especially Leslie, the show really has a hard time working. The whole point of this show is what’s good and what’s evil. We know, but do we know?! There aren’t a lot of people who could do that.
WERSCHING: That’s very sweet. In the comics, the parents are pretty straightforward bad. Josh and Steph, having come from The O.C. and Gossip Girl, they know how to do an adults/parents-kids merge of a show, where sometimes the villains turn into the heroes. It’s fun! They know how to tell both sides successfully and keep the storylines together. We’re in good hands.
PARDUE: These kids are going through teen angsty stuff and are hoping they’re gonna get invited to the dance, and then they have to save the world. Could the stakes get any higher? I don’t think so. That’s what makes it fun. It’s very real and grounded. It’s a superhero show, in the same way that Daredevil is a superhero show, but the New York shows on Netflix feel like they’re about someone who has superpowers. Yeah, you get to know them and go on this ride with them, but it doesn’t feel like you could ever be them. With this, while all of the characters are going through their own relationship with powers, you feel like you could be these people, or if you’re not them, than you know someone who’s like them. You’ve been through all of the same painful, happy and wonderful things that they’re going through. We’ve all had fights with our parents. It’s a little bit more rooted than any of the other Marvel shows on the air right now.